Boston hospital discloses wrong-side surgery

A surgeon at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center operated on the wrong side of a patient this week--and in a rare act of transparency, hospital officials disclosed the event promptly in an email to staff members. The surgical mistake happened during an elective orthopedic procedure that didn't involve removal of organs and didn't cause permanent damage to the patient. However, state authorities are still investigating the matter. This is one of five wrong-side surgeries reported to authorities statewide during the first five months of the year, according to the state's Bureau of Health Care Safety and Quality.

The error occurred despite the fact that medical workers had used a marker to label the correct side of the patient for the operation. However, the surgeon failed to notice the mark. Experts note that this problem might have been avoided if the surgical team took a "time out" before the procedure, under which operating teams stop and verbally call out, "Right patient, right procedure, right location."

To learn more about the surgery:
- read this item from The Boston Globe

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